India To Build Un-Manned High Altitude Airship

 It will
be India’s eyes in the sky, the ones that from 70,000 feet can keep
tabs over the entire Indian subcontinent. The Department of
Science and Technology (DST) is developing an indigenous unmanned High
Altitude Airship (HAA) – a towering Zeppelinlike aircraft – to closely
monitor the country’s coastline, borders and the Maoist “red corridor”,
said a scientist associated with the project
.

Former Aerial
Delivery Research and Development Establishment Director, Dr M L
Sidana, who is overseeing the DST-funded project told Express that the
HAA can be used for resource mapping, safeguarding high-value off shore
assets and disaster management.

The airship will be powered by
solar panels and will have regenerating fuel cells which will make it
operational during night also.”The National Aerospace
Laboratories (NAL) has been asked to prepare a feasibility study, which
has been completed and will be shortly submitted to the DST. Following
the approval, a Technology Demonstrator weighing about 50 kg will be
built and later we can go for the production of the final version that
can carry payloads weighing 2,000 kg,” said Sidana. The HAA will place India in the select club of US, Japan, Korea, UK, Switzerland and Germany.

Sidana
said by placing 15 to 20 airships, the entire Indian subcontinent can
be under surveillance, as one airship can survey land area of 600 km
from a height of 21 km.The HAA will be placed at a geostationary
position and would have capabilities similar to a satellite at fraction
of the cost, said Jitendra Singh, an NAL scientist who is part of the
project.”As the airship will be very close to the earth’s
surface, it can capture and send data quickly compared to other
surveillance systems. 

The HAAs can also be used for antisubmarine
warfare and airborne early warning as it can help in ballistic or
cruise missile defence with its ability to send images in quick time,”
said Singh